Saturday, August 23, 2014


While I was at my GIS conference in California, James was busy scouring Craigslist for a pop-up camper. After our Maine vacation, we decided to look around for a used camper that would serve as our home away from home for many years of family vacations. Obviously, it didn't take him long to find one. Last weekend we took her out for her maiden voyage. It was also Cece's first time camping (ok, second if you count this night). We decided to stay relatively close to home just in case we needed to bail on the plan in the middle of the night. I was a little nervous about how Cece would do, in particular, how she'd sleep.

We picked Black Rock State Park campground which is about an hour from home. Neither of us had been there before but we got lucky and picked one of the better sites at the park. We arrived in the evening on Friday and immediately set up "camp."

The camper is surprisingly big. It folds out to include two large beds (a king and a full) and has two other beds that can be made out of the couch seating area and the dining area so in total it can comfortably sleep 6-8 people. It also has a fridge, a sink and an outdoor grill as well as decent amount of storage. We set up Cece's pack n' play where the table usually goes and despite a bit of a rough patch in the middle of our first night, she did great. By night two she was sleeping through the night (more or less). She did wake up when a skunk wandered through our campsite and scratched at our door, but went right back to sleep after that.

If you follow us on Instagram, you know that we did a "dry-run" the weekend before in our driveway. After going down easy because she was overtired, Cece woke up in the middle of the night screaming. Not once but three times. Eventually I was so tired I just took her out of the pack and play and let her sleep between us in the big king bed. After that experience, I wasn't sure how this would go. Afterall, there were other campers on both sides of us. But, I think in general, the fact that we weren't in our driveway anymore and the fact that Cece stayed up both night until 9 pm (way past her bedtime) played in our favor. Plus, she loved exploring the campground (read we had to chase her around for two days) and was pretty much exhausted once her head hit the pillow. She had a really, really good time. We all did.

And of course, no camping trip would be complete without s'mores.
By the second morning, we were pros. Well, almost. 

And sadly, before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head home again.

Our happy little camper on the first of many family camping trips!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Bunch of Map (Geeks), San Diego & Two Trips to the Hospital

The day after we got home from our vacation in Maine, I hopped on a flight to the other coast for the 2014 Esri International GIS User Conference in San Diego. This conference is essentially Mecca for mapping geeks like me. With over 15,000 attendees, the conference is huge and far, far bigger than any conference I've ever been to. It's held at the San Diego Convention Center right on the coast. Below is the view from the balcony of my hotel room. Um, yeah!

As excited as I was to attend the conference, it was hard to be away from my family for the week. It was the first time I'd left Cece for more than a night since she was born. And what's more, as soon as I landed I got a phone call that James was in the hospital. Whaaat?!? He had severe stomach/abdominal pain and went to the ER. At first they thought it might be appendicitis and might need surgery which means I would be getting right back on the plane. After several tests, he was diagnosed with diverticulitis, which definitely makes sense because he has had similar pain in the past. After a night in the hospital and a heavy dose of antibiotics, James recovered without needing further treatment. Fingers crossed he doesn't have another bout of it in the future or else they may need to have surgery.

Once I got word that James was recovering, I could relax and enjoy the conference. Almost all of the photos below are from Esri's Flickr account so they aren't mine. You can tell which ones are mine, they were taken on my crappy iPhone. =)

The conference opened with the plenary session. It felt like we were at a rock concert. With 15,000 people in one huge room, screens, lights, music and yes, lots and lots of maps. even showed up via Skype to show off his new map watch.

The conference was chock full of information. There was a ton to see, do and learn. So much to absorb. And lots of parties, food and drinking (non-alcoholic drinks for me and baby of course). There was even a 5K race that was part of the conference. Even though I had not run in 8 months and not once this pregnancy, I decided to jog it with my colleague Emily. I finished in 32 minutes and managed to jog the whole course, which was victory enough for me. 
The last day of the conference featured a huge party in Balboa Park. All of the museums were open for us to wander through and there was catered food spread out at stations around the park. It was amazing and overwhelming at the same time. I stayed for a few hours and then said goodbye to my colleagues and headed to the airport for a late night red-eye back to the east coast. No problem, right?
Approximately 30 minutes into the 5 hour flight, I was struck with the worst pain I've ever been in in my entire life (and that includes birthing Cece without drugs!). I didn't know it at the time (and neither did the two doctors on board) but it turned out I had an 8mm (that's big) kidney stone in my left kidney. I spent the entire flight on the floor in the back of the plane, most of it throwing up into a plastic bag. It was bad. They almost diverted us to Chicago. Thank goodness that didn't happen. When the plane landed at our scheduled stop in Philadelphia, an ambulance was waiting for me. After a very painful ride to the University of Pennsylvania hospital, I was admitted and remained there for five very rough days until I finally (mercifully!) passed the stone on my own. My parents drove down to PA to pick me up and drive me home (you couldn't pay me to get on another plane!) and it took another week to fully recover. Fingers crossed I don't get another one of those suckers. It was by far the worst pain anyone can experience without actually dying. The worst. I'm betting birthing kid number two will be a breeze after that! Let's just hope the next time either James or I are in the hospital is in November when our son joins our family. We do NOT need any more hospital visits before then!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Maine Vacation Part III: The Coast

Finally, the last installment of our summer vacation series. Check out Part I (the cabin) and Part II (Mt. Washington) if you're interested.

The lake we stayed on was about a half hour from the coast of Maine. We took a few day trips to various places including the Freeport and Portland areas. Our first stop was the Maine Wildlife Park. The park is run by the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife department and includes only animals native to Maine. Many of them are being rehabilitated before being released back to the wild.

On our way home we stopped in Portland for lunch at the Portland Lobster Company and a little shopping in the artsy downtown. I love Portland. A few years ago (pre-babies!) I ran the Portland Marathon. It's a great little (ok, long) race.

On the last day of vacation we  visited Freeport and the famous L.L. Bean stores. Can't go to Maine without a stop here. I didn't take many (or any!) pictures, I guess I was too busy shopping. From there we headed back to the Portland area to visit the Portland Head Lighthouse. Apparently it is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. It was a beautiful day for a walk along the bluffs and some exploring among the old forts.

Our week in Maine was full of family, friends, swimming, campfires, fishing, cookouts, beautiful weather, and fun. There's something magical about Maine in the summer. I'm sure we will be back for many more summer vacations in the years to come!